(Bloomberg) Don’t believe everything Martin Shkreli says, at least what he tweets, his lawyer told a federal judge before his fraud trial begins next week.
Shkreli, 34, was in court Monday citing a lack of funds and seeking to reduce his $5 million bail to allow him to use $3 million to pay for his defense and taxes. But prosecutor Alixandra Smith countered that Shkreli, a former pharmaceutical executive, has plenty of cash, citing a recent series of postings he’s made on social media.
"Tweeting has become, unfortunately so fashionable, but it’s not always true," said Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli’s lawyer. “When people tweet, they don’t always mean what they say."
Brafman urged the judge to focus on his actual financial position. He said Shkreli owes his lawyers for work related to this case and others and has debts to forensic accountants who are addressing state and federal tax claims against him.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn didn’t issue a decision, but suggested to Brafman that if Shkreli wants any change in his bail he must submit additional financial information.
According to Smith, Shkreli has claimed to court officials that he was worth $70 million and owns a Picasso, an unreleased Lil Wayne album and one of the original "Enigma" machines, which was used to break German codes during World War II. He also recently promised a Princeton University student $40,000 for solving a mathematical proof, she said.
In a May 26 Facebook post, Shkreli offered a $100,000 bounty to find the killer on Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, Smith said. In addition, she said he’s frittered away $2 million buying an unreleased double album by hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
Smith said a company Shkreli co-founded has paid defense lawyers $4.8 million and Shkreli may try to use any returned bail funds to pay certain creditors who’ve sued him and won multi-million judgments against him.
"Our concern is the defendant is using this as a mechanism to pick and choose which creditors he wants to pay," she said.
Brafman urged the judge to discount Shkreli’s proclamations.
"Some of these preposterous statements Mr. Shkreli made are his way to remain relevant," he said, adding that his client is "traveling to the beat of a very unique drummer."
Shkreli became notorious after his Turing Pharmaceuticals LLC bought the life-saving HIV and AIDS drug Daraprim and raised its price to $750 from $13.50. He’s accused of deceiving investors about the performance of two now-defunct hedge funds and taking assets from Retrophin Inc., which he co-founded, to pay off his funds’ debts. Shkreli denies wrongdoing.
Brafman told the judge he won’t be calling co-defendant Evan Greebel to testify at the trial. Grebel, a former Kaye Scholer LLP lawyer, was indicted for aiding Shkreli in the alleged fraud of investors. In April, Greebel was granted a separate trial after arguing the two men would offer defenses that essentially point the finger at each other.
The case is U.S. v. Shkreli, 15-cr-00637, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).